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On paper it’s not a bridge too far for Range Rover

16:28 27 November 2015

A Range Rover luxury sport utility crossed a specially-built 5m bridge of paper to celebrate the marque

A Range Rover luxury sport utility crossed a specially-built 5m bridge of paper to celebrate the marque's 45 years of innovation.

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Land Rover has driven its flagship Range Rover luxury sport utility across a bridge made of paper.

The freestanding structure in Suzhou, China, spanned five metres without glue or bolts to hold it in place.

Land Rover commissioned the special bridge to mark the 45th anniversary of its Range Rover family and highlight 45 years of Range Rover innovation ahead of the Guangzhou Motor Show in China.

The hand-built paper bridge took three days to construct in the ancient water city of Suzhou, famous for its bridges and nicknamed ‘Venice of the East’. The crossing was made of 54,390 sheets of high-quality paper supplied by specialist British manufacturer James Cropper PLC.

Construction of the bridge began with the assembly of a pair of specially-designed wooden abutments. Paper was then stacked on these supports using a temporary framework to hold them in place. Once complete, this was removed leaving a freestanding 3.4m high paper arch spanning five metres.

Range Rover world firsts

1970 – Original two-door Range Rover, known as the Classic, goes on sale.

1972 – Range Rover is the first vehicle to drive the full length of the Americas from Alaska to Cape Horn including the near-impassable Darien Gap.

1979 – Specially-modified Range Rover wins the first Paris-Dakar rally (a Range Rover wins again in 1981).

1981 – First production four-door Range Rover appears along with the first factory-produced limited-edition Range Rover, the ‘In Vogue’.

1985 – Diesel-powered Range Rover ‘Bullet’ breaks 27 speed records, including a diesel record for averaging more than 100mph for 24 hours.

1989 – Range Rover is the world’s first 4x4 to be fitted with ABS anti-lock brakes.

1992 – Range Rover Classic is the world’s first 4x4 to be fitted with electronic traction control.

1992 – Automatic electronic air suspension introduced, a world first for a 4x4.

1994 – Second-generation (P38a) Range Rover launched.

2001 – Third-generation (L322) Range Rover launched.

2002 – Half-millionth Range Rover produced at the Solihull plant.

2010 – Range Rover celebrates 40th anniversary.

2012 – Fourth-generation (L405) Range Rover launched, the world’s first all-aluminium sport utility vehicle, saving up to 420kg compared to using traditional steel.

2015 – 6,000,000th Land Rover produced is a Range Rover LWB SE Vogue destined for China.

The sustainably-sourced paper was repurposed by Land Rover with the remainder recycled locally to be used again in China.

The jaw-dropping drive was the latest in a long line of industry firsts for Land Rover’s flagship SUV.

Land Rover Experience chief instructor Chris Zhou was entrusted with negotiating the paper bridge in the £100,000, 2,374kg Range Rover, using a variety of all-terrain technologies to preserve the delicate fabric of the unique structure. Range Rover is available with a series of innovative features that combine to provide unrivalled all-terrain capability including Terrain Response 2 and All-Terrain Progress Control.

Terrain Response 2 features an auto mode which, when selected, optimises a range of vehicle settings to enhance all-terrain capability without any input from the driver.

All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) allows drivers to concentrate purely on steering the vehicle when negotiating difficult or slippery terrain by maintaining a set speed ranging from 1mph to 19mph without any pedal inputs. The intelligent technology enhances all-terrain capability and can be activated on the move or from a standstill, to help when pulling away on tricky surfaces, and even works in 
reverse gear.

The industry-first technology can assist drivers when pulling away on slippery wet grass – a demanding surface for even experienced off-road drivers – by ensuring minimal wheelspin, and even help to drive the vehicle out of deep sand.

Nick Rogers, director group engineering with Jaguar Land Rover, said: “China is an important market for Range Rover, so we have picked the perfect place to celebrate 45 years of our luxury SUV family. Range Rover’s advanced lightweight body and peerless all-terrain capability were crucial factors in making this unique drive possible.”

Artist and paper bridge designer Steve Messam said: “Paper structures capable of supporting people have been built before but nothing on this scale has ever been attempted. It’s pushing engineering boundaries, just like the Range Rover, and the ease and composure with which the vehicle negotiated the arch was genuinely breathtaking.”

Range Rover, seen as the ultimate luxury SUV, combines sophisticated exterior design with class-leading all-terrain capability and exquisite interior refinement.

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